The first test run of a pipe dream
The Hyperloop sounds like science fiction, and has been accused of being a pipe dream (pun intended). But a successful first test earlier this week makes it seem much closer to reality.
A peek into the future of transportation
Last Friday viewers, including government officials from all over the world, investors, and journalists were invited to a remote place in Nevada to see the first application of the technology. The test lasted only a few seconds, but might be the first step in changing transportation forever.
The final form of Hyperloop involves shooting passengers or cargo through steel vacuum tubes at over 700 miles per hour. This test was only the beginning and was conducted in open air, no vacuum tubes to be seen. Just an aluminum sled shooting along a track demonstrating the basics of the propulsion system based on “active stator” coils in the track that react with magnets in the sled to push the cart forward.
The mini-version: A success
And push they did. The sled went from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.1 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour and traveling about a thousand feet before being slowed by a sand bank and gliding to a smooth stop. The lofty speed goals for the final form of the hyperloop are based on encasing this propulsion system inside a vacuum tube that will reduce air resistance to almost nothing. The team said they’d be testing a more complete version by the end of the year.
This is already more progress for the project than many people have expected, especially considering the idea for hyper loop was first introduced in 2013 through in a 58 page white paper by Elon Musk.
From the garage to Nevada
But Musk has maintained his distance since then, making room for venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and BamBrogan, a former Space X engineer, to form Hyperloop One in 2014.
Only 16 months ago, the company was housed in Brogan’s garage. The road from there to Friday’s “Kitty Hawk Moment” (a reference to the Wright Brothers first successful flight) last week has travelled at hyper speed.
Hold on to your butts
As Rob Lloyd observed, all the technology used for this test was assembled in the last six months.
Along with the successful test announcement, the company said it has completed an $80M series B investment with supporters like GE, Western Technology Investment, and the French National Rail Company.
The future of transportation can now begin. Now, pick up your jaw and get on with work, we’ll keep you updated!